Two weeks into hearings held by the House Judiciary Committee, no new information has surfaced that would implicate President Trump for conspiring to collude with Russia during the 2016 presidential election, and no additional evidence has yet emerged to support allegations that Trump obstructed justice during special counsel Mueller’s two-year FBI probe.
The hearings before the committee, chaired by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), have likely been intended by Democrats to create a spectacle and something of a trial of President Trump in the court of public opinion. In recent weeks, leading Democrats have retreated from their demands for impeachment, as well as an alternative proposal to hold formal hearings in the House to censure the president. Hence, the Judiciary Committee’s hearings currently represent the biggest challenge to Trump by Democrats who want to continue to press on information contained in the Mueller report.
“We are going to go step by step,” Nadler told CNN several weeks ago. “We’re investigating all the things we would investigate frankly in an impeachment inquiry. We are starting with the Mueller Report, which I think shows ample evidence of multiple crimes of obstruction of justice and abuse of power. … We need to educate the American people.”
On Wednesday, June 19, the committee heard eight hours of closed-door testimony from Hope Hicks, who served as Trump’s campaign communications director during the 2016 election cycle. A transcript of 273 pages summarizes the day’s events, though no new information of substance has emerged.
The transcript does reveal that White House lawyers repeatedly prevented Hicks from answering questions about private conversations within the White House. Trump administration attorneys asserted that Hicks was immune from giving compelled testimony before Congress, and this left Democratic members of the committee frustrated for the most part.
Hicks had already held extensive interviews with Mueller’s investigative team.
There is no news yet as to whether Robert Mueller III will appear to give further testimony. Nadler still seeks to hear from Mueller and has stated that he is prepared to issue a subpoena, if necessary. The committee also still wants testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn, whom they believe would be their other primary witness.
McGahn became an important witness for the Mueller investigation when it surfaced that Trump had pressured McGahn to instruct then Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Mueller. According to special counsel Mueller’s report, McGahn resisted Trump’s efforts.
In May, President Trump directed McGahn not to comply with a subpoena from the committee, leading the committee to vote to hold McGahn in contempt of Congress.